More than 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans, so each of us plays a role in preventing a wildfire. It's important to understand wildfire prevention strategies related to camping, campfires, driving, outdoor equipment use, smoking, shooting and more. It's also important to be aware of and abide by current fire restrictions.
Summit County Fire Restrictions
Effective Tuesday, October 9, the Board of County Commissioners has lifted Stage 1 fire restrictions in unincorporated Summit County, in recognition of reduced fire danger.
Lifting Stage 1 fire restrictions maintains consistency with other jurisdictions in and around Summit County, including U.S. Forest Service lands. All districts of the White River National Forest lifted fire restrictions on Oct. 9.
Fire districts, county officials and U.S. Forest Service personnel will continue to monitor conditions throughout the fall. The Board of County Commissioners encourages the public to remain vigilant in wildfire prevention and campfire safety.
For information about fire restrictions in other counties, view statewide fire restriction and fire danger information across Colorado.
Wildfire Prevention Strategies
Summit County, in partnership with local towns and the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, is using a variety of strategies to prevent wildfire. Join us in our efforts by reviewing the info below and taking appropriate action. Help us stop a wildfire before it starts.
Campfire Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local fire restrictions are in place: Stage 1 Fire Restrictions allow campfires only in developed campgrounds, inside permanent fire pits or fire grates. Stage 2 Fire Restrictions prohibit campfires altogether.
- Build Properly: If no restrictions are in place, build a campfire by selecting a level, open site, away from logs, trees and brush. Clear grass, leaves and needles within 5 feet of the fire's edge. Scoop a depression at the center of the cleared area, and set ring of rocks around the depression.
- Burn Safely: Keep all campfires small, and always have a shovel and bucket of water nearby. A responsible adult should monitor the fire until it is completely out. Unattended campfires are one of the most common causes of wildfires.
- Put Out Completely: Drown the fire with water, and stir with a shovel to wet all ash and coals. Feel them with the back of your hand – they should be cool to the touch. Move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to create a cool, wet "soup."
Vehicle Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Maintain Vehicles: Ensure that no parts (e.g., tow chains, exhaust pipes) are dragging. Keep tires properly inflated. Maintain brakes – metal-to-metal contact may throw sparks.
- Steer Clear of Vegetation: Don't park or drive over dry grasses or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires you can't see. Be sure ATVs have spark arresters.
- Prepare For Fire: Carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and know how to use it.
Equipment Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check for Restrictions: Stage 1 and 2 Fire Restrictions include restrictions and safety requirements for outdoor use of various types of equipment, including chainsaws, torches and welding equipment.
- Mowing: Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it's windy or excessively dry. Lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or dry grass. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires.
- Spark Arresters: In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gasoline-powered equipment. This includes tractors, chainsaws, harvesters, weedeaters and mowers.
- Maintenance: Keep exhaust systems, spark arresters and all equipment in working order and free of carbon buildup.
- Equipment Use:
- Use the recommended grade of fuel, and don't top it off.
- Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher ready to use.
- In wildland areas, grinding and welding operations require a permit and 10 feet of clearance.
- Don't drive vehicles onto dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires that you won't see until it's too late.
- Keep a cell phone or radio nearby and call 911 immediately in case of fire. Delays can have devastating results.
Smoking Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: Find out if local restrictions are in place. During Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, outdoor smoking is only allowed in an area at least three feet in diameter free of any flammable material - smoking is not allowed in timber, brush or grass areas. During Stage 2 Fire Restrictions, smoking is prohibited anywhere outside of an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.
- Extinguish Completely: Extinguish and cool cigarettes completely before discarding. Never throw cigarettes or other smoking materials on the ground or from vehicles. When outdoors, discard cigarettes and ashes in an unburnable can filled with sand.
Shooting Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Check For Restrictions: As of June 28, 2018, the Summit County Shooting Range is closed until further notice, because of fire danger.
- Clear Flammable Materials: Remove dry grasses and other flammable materials from around your target.
- Use Safe Targets: Don't shoot at steel or rocks; they may throw sparks into nearby vegetation. Use paper targets or clay pigeons.
- Prepare For Fire: Keep a shovel, fire extinguisher and water on hand in case a fire does start.
- In Case of Fire, Call 911 Immediately: If a fire does start, call 911 right away – any delay could be disastrous.
Debris Burning Safety to Prevent Wildfire
- Permit: In Summit County, a permit is always required to burn slash or forest debris. To obtain a permit, applicants must contact Summit County Environmental Health and their local fire district (Summit Fire & EMS or Red, White & Blue Fire). Fire restrictions that limit debris burning may be in effect.
- How: Don't burn unless weather conditions (especially wind) are such that burning can be considered safe. Keep a water supply and shovel close to the burning site. A responsible adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is completely out. Landscape debris piles must be in small 4-feet-by-4-feet piles. Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the outer edge of the pile.
- What: Do not burn garbage or household trash outdoors at residences. Dry, natural vegetation grown on the property may be burned outdoors in open piles, with a permit.
- When: Don't burn if it is windy or if surrounding vegetation is very dry. Obey all local and state laws and restrictions.
- Air Quality: Visit Summit County Environmental Health for guidelines on minimizing air quality impacts from smoke emissions.
Wildfire Prevention Patrol
In summer 2018, Summit County partnered with the U.S. Forest Service, local towns and local fire districts to conduct wildfire prevention patrols. A four-person U.S. Forest Service crew patrolled the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest throughout the summer.
The crew conducted campsite monitoring, visitor contacts and fire-prevention messaging throughout the Dillon Ranger District, which is located entirely within Summit County. Crew members informed visitors about U.S. Forest Service and Summit County regulations that protect natural resources and prevent wildfires. Contact with individuals in undeveloped, dispersed campsites was the top priority. In addition to the USFS crew, personnel from the Summit County Sheriff's Office also conducted fire-prevention patrol work.
The combined effort was funded by a coalition of local government agencies. Summit County contributed $86,000 as well as in-kind services; the local towns and fire districts contributed an additional $50,000. The Forest Service provided training, supervision, housing, vehicles and equipment for the USFS crew. Summit County also conducted public education and outreach on wildfire prevention.
Learn more about Summit County's 2018 wildfire prevention patrol.
Thanks to local voters, the wildfire prevention patrol will continue in summer 2019 and beyond, as a Summit County Strong Future initiative.
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, diapers, baby food)
- Can opener
- Clothing, hats, sturdy shoes
- Duct tape
- Emergency blanket and/or sleeping bags
- Emergency contact information
- Family contact information
- First aid kit
- Food: Non-perishable, 3-day supply
- Games and books
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Hand sanitizer
- Items of sentimental value that could not be replaced
- Keys: House, vehicles
- Medical items, devices, records and information
- Medication: 7-day supply; list of medications
- Personal documents (proof of address, home lease/deed, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Pet supplies: food, leash, carrier, bowl
- Phone, tablet, laptop and power cords
- Rain gear
- Toiletries and personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, razor, soap, sun screen, hair brush)
- Water: 3 gallons/person
- Work gloves